How the global banana industry is killing the world’s favorite fruit

Godetevi le banane finché durano.
E ricordate bambini: non accettate caramelle dagli sconosciuti, né una parte importante del vostro nutrimento da un esercito di cloni…

Quartz

During harvest last year, banana farmers in Jordan and Mozambique made a chilling discovery. Their plants were no longer bearing the soft, creamy fruits they’d been growing for decades. When they cut open the roots of their banana plants, they saw something that looked like this:

A Cavendish ravaged by Tropical Race 4. A banana plant ravaged by Tropical Race 4.

Scientists first discovered the fungus that is turning banana plants into this rotting, fibrous mass in Southeast Asia in the 1990s. Since then the pathogen, known as the Tropical Race 4 strain of Panama disease, has slowly but steadily ravaged export crops throughout Asia. The fact that this vicious soil-borne fungus has now made the leap to Mozambique and Jordan is frightening. One reason is that it’s getting closer to Latin America, where at least 70% of the world’s $8.9-billion-a-year worth of exported bananas is grown.

Randy Ploetz, professor of plant pathology at University of Florida who discovered Tropical…

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